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Numbers Show Growth at the 2003 World Social Forum

Numbers Show Growth at the 2003 World Social Forum

Seminars gathering 15,000 people, food courts that can serve 3,000 meals a day, and more than three hundred rooms where meetings and workshops can take place: these numbers show how the World Social Forum is prepared to receive more than 100 thousand participants from all over the world. Nearly 30,000 delegates, representing 5,500 organizations from 126 countries, are going to be in Porto Alegre, in addition to hundreds of thousands of spectators. The organizers of the event comprise about 100 people, and are aided by approximately 600 volunteers.

The two largest delegations are Brazilian, with approximately 19,500 delegates from 3,400 organizations, and North American, with 1,100 delegates from 3,400 organizations. Considerable delegations will also come from France (around 150 organizations and 700 delegates), Italy (150 organizations and 600 delegates), Argentina (120 organizations and 750 delegates) and Uruguay (56 organizations and 600 delegates). A single delegate was accredited to the event by some countries, such as the Vatican and Zambia. Distant nations, such as the Fiji Islands (one organization and nine delegates), Togo (four delegates) and Nepal (seven organizations and 13 delegates), will have due representation as well.

The distribution of the activities in four different venues in the city has widened the mega-event like characteristics of the World Social Forum 2003, the third to take place in Porto Alegre. In the first two years, almost all activities took place at the campus of the Pontificia Universidade Catolica (PUC). This year, the arrangements for Forum events include the Gigantinho Stadium; the warehouses by Cais do Porto (the docklands by the Guaiba River); and a new area within Harmonia Park, where the Intercontinental Youth Camp of about 30,000 people, is located.

This year, the WSF is going to provide transportation to seminars and events, food courts, security and other facilities. There are going to be spaces both for the gathering of small groups as well as for large seminars, such as the Gigantinho Stadium with a capacity of 15,000.

Seven big maps of the city will be displayed at Forum venues. Information about the programme will be available at two information centres in Gigantinho and at PUC. The Porto Alegre City Council has initiated special bus-lines to PUC and Gigantinho. These special buses are air conditioned, and cost R$1.25 (US 40 cents). If your destination is Gigantinho where there is not enough parking space to accommodate everyone, the best option is to go by bus, cab or shuttle.

The large number of participants necessitated a special scheme to meet food needs. The Economia Solidária chain, which offers organic and ecological food products, is prepared to serve up to three thousand meals daily at PUC and has reserved an area of a thousand square metres next to Gigantinho, to attend to the public. Seventy eating establishments will be open to the public at the Intercontinental Youth Camp, and at Cais do Porto, two food courts have been set up.

The Police and the Military Brigade--the local equivalent to the state military police-- are in charge of security at the event. However, there will also be private security at venues such as Gigantinho, where 60 men are going to work to prevent petty crime.

At PUC, the university has made its own restrooms available and at Gigantinho, 140 chemical toilets are going to be installed: 70% of which are for women and 30% of which are for men. This proportion will counterbalance the number of toilets inside the stadium itself, where 70% are men’s rooms and 30% are women’s rooms.

At PUC, there will be no stands for NGOs or social movements this year. They are going to be set up in Gigantinho (180) and at Cais do Porto (200). The Brazilian Central Union of Labourers or CUT (Central Única dos Trabalhadores), is going to run an area of a thousand square metres by Gigantinho and the food courts.

Anyone who would like to use computers with Internet access and free software may do so at the Youth Camp, where 100 terminals will be available. The Press Office, located at PUC, will provide journalists with 160 computers and 50 laptop terminals. Two cybercafés, each with 25 terminals, complete the range of choices at PUC.

Will you need banking services? In addition to the Banrisul branch, in which there is a Bureau de Change, PUC is going to host bank kiosks: Banco do Brasil, Bradesco, Itaú, Real and Santander.

There will be simultaneous translation for the conferences in foreign languages in Gigantinho.


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